Julia Sweeney – “Freethought Comedienne of the Year” Award

Julia Sweeney came to Hollywood not as an actor but as an accountant. The oldest in a family of five children raised in Spokane, Washington, she put her interest in acting aside while she pursued her economic studies at the University of Washington. After graduation, Julia headed south to Los Angeles to work as an accountant for Columbia Pictures. On a whim, she signed up for classes with the improvisational comedy troupe, The Groundlings.

She studied under Saturday Night Live cast member-to-be Phil Hartman and was discovered by SNL producer Lorne Michaels. She stayed on the show for four hit seasons. Her unforgettable androgynous character, “Pat,” spun a feature film, ” It’s Pat.” Julia moved back back to Los Angeles. Within a matter of months, her brother was diagnosed with cancer, and so was she. Her experiences led her to write and star in “God Said, Ha!” The play was released theatrically by Miramax, and earned the Golden Space Needle Award and the New York Film Festival audience award. Sweeney’s recording earned her a Grammy nomination for best comedy album.

Julia has appeared on the big screen in her friend Quentin Tarantino’s blockbuster “Pulp Fiction.” A veteran of live television, Julia was a series regular on “George & Leo” and she guest-starred on “3rd Rock from the Sun,” “Hope and Gloria,” and “Mad About You.” She’s acted in feature films “Clockstoppers,” “Whatever It Takes,” “Stuart Little,” “Thick as Thieves,” and “Beethoven’s 3rd.” She also served as a consultant on the hit HBO series “Sex and the City.”

Her hilarious one-woman show, “In the Family Way” ran off-Broadway in 2003. “In the family Way” is about the adoption of her daughter, Mulan, from China. In 2004, she debuted a new one-woman show, “Letting Go of God.” Julia has a contract with Henry Holt & Co. to complete a book of the same name. She has said her goal is to see Letting Go of God right up there with all the other books at the “Inspirational” section of airport bookstores!

Convention-goers at the Foundation’s 2002 conference in San Diego were treated to an early sneak preview of “Letting Go of God.”

Photo by Brent Nicastro

Freedom From Religion Foundation